— More streets should be included in trials says business group and councillor.
— How cycling access fits in needs to be looked at, says councillor.
Dublin City Council said on Friday afternoon that it is extending the period of the Grafton Street area pedestrianisation trial until the end of August, but Dublin’s largest business group has said it should be extended midweek.
The city council said: “The decision has been taken in response to the extremely positive feedback received following the first three weekends of the trial. Each of the locations below will be closed to traffic from 11am to 11pm on Saturdays and Sundays.”
The trial pedestrianisation locations are: Anne Street South from the junction of Dawson Street; Duke Street from the junction of Dawson Street; South William Street from the Brown Thomas carpark exit to Chatham Row; Drury Street from Fade Street to the Drury Street carpark; and Dame Court from Exchequer Street.
“These measures are being taken to support the economic recovery of the city by providing more space for pedestrians during weekends to encourage people to return for shopping and to make use of the many cafes and restaurants in the area and so enjoy the city centre,” said the council in a press release.
Cllr Michael Pidgeon (Green) said: “It’s pretty clear that the pedestrianisation has already been a success. Projects like this usually get a huge amount of negative pushback from the usual crowd, but I’ve heard virtually nothing here.”
“The only thing left to discuss is how soon to do it and some technical tweaks — including how best to integrate cycling in some form,” he said.
Cllr Pidgeon added: “More interesting than just these streets, though, I think the council have demonstrated that trials and interim measures can work. I’d like to see rolling trials tried in some of our urban villages along the same lines. For me, the obvious next parts of the city centre to look at are Capel Street, Mary Street, and College Green.”
Graeme McQueen, a spokesperson for Dublin Chamber, said the business group wanted to see the pedestrianisation trials expanded to midweek. The group that footfall numbers and trading levels remaining significantly down between Monday and Thursday.
McQueen said: “We think there is good potential for these trials to be extended into September and possibly beyond. Businesses in the city centre need help. The pedestrianisation trials have brought about a welcome increase in the number of people coming in to the city centre to shop and socialise, but numbers are still well down on where they would have been pre-Covid. This is the case on both the north and south side of the city centre.”
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“The trials in the Grafton Street area have proved successful so far and it makes sense that we’d now start exploring other streets and areas for similar initiatives. Ultimately, these measures are being taken to better allow for social distancing and to help people feel safe,” he said.
He added: “We believe that more pedestrianisation will give people confidence to visit the city centre. Encouraging more people and families into the city centre and getting more people back in shopping is going to help businesses and that in turn is going to save jobs.”
Dublin City Council said that access for emergency vehicles and to car parks is maintained, and that “everyone is of course welcome to enjoy the city-centre including motorists”.
It added: “Five disabled parking bays will be moved to alternative locations during the times of the trials. The three disabled parking bays on Drury Street and the one disabled parking bay on Dame Court will be moved to Clarendon Street. The disabled parking bay on South Anne Street will be moved to Molesworth Street.”
IMAGE: Cllr Michael Pidgeon.